10 Ways to Build a Go-For-It Culture
It’s difficult for go-for-it leaders to imagine that people are waiting for permission to act. What’s wrong with them?
You take action without asking permission. Why doesn’t everyone else?
10 ways to build a go-for-it culture:
#1. Acknowledge that fear of overstepping prevents people from stepping out.
#2. Understand the connection between authority and permission. Authority is permission to act without asking permission. The more authority you share, the less permission you need to give. Lousy leaders grasp authority – great leaders give it.
#3. Adopt an ‘intend to’ model. Train people to explain what they intend to do, rather than waiting to be told to do it. “Tell me what you intend to do.”
You’re a failure as a leader if people sit around waiting for you to tell them what to do.
#4. Leap for joy when people act without asking permission, even if they screw up. Celebrate failure as learning. Concern yourself more with patterns of failure, not individual occurrences. Learn from both.
#5. Recognize that rules enable boldness. An organization without rules of engagement is chaotic or paralyzed. One rule might be, ‘We solicit suggestions from people closest to the work.’ In this case, accountability is asking, “What suggestions have our front-line people made?”
#6. Realize that new team members need more permission than experienced.
#7. Explore limits and boundaries openly. Bump up against each other’s turf and have conversations. Explore artificial boundaries. Once boundaries are clear, everything else is permission.
Boundaries enable boldness.
#8. Look within when people keep waiting for permission. Leadership is the issue.
#9. Give permission before people ask for permission. Walk around saying, “Go for it.”
#10. Ask timid teammates, “What would embolden you to take action without asking permission?”
How might leaders build go-for-it cultures?
Which of the above ideas seems most useful? How would you implement it?
Many great ideas to empower leaders to take risks and be less fearful of failing.
Teaching a team to take educated risks and learn from failure is a great way to build a learning organisation that celebrates innovation. After all, innovation requires someone to take a risk and be resilient during failures before it becomes real.
Once your team know you encourage, celebrate and reward initiative – your follower power grows immensely.
Thanks Rob. Your statement, “… innovation requires someone to take a risk and be resilient during failures before it becomes real.” leaps off the page for me, especially “be resilient during failures…” I think our teams need the same resilience. Leaders instill courage to be resilient. People don’t dare to be resilient when failure is punished.
Be selective in your aspirations “for everything doesn’t fit all”, as you know. If we sense an opportunity by all means “go for it”, for every door that closes another shall open. The key is finding/knowing yourself to select what is best for you.
Thanks Tim. You’re comment got me thinking about the value of creating a playing field. Where are we going? Where does risk-taking matter most.
As far as you want to go to some extent, we are controlled by fear, emotions and other’s, you have to weigh your options and do what’s best for you, family, workers, partners etc. You never know till you get there!
Dan at my old high growth, successful private company, Donn Corporation, there were several key aspects of its Culture:
-innovation in every group from operations to staff. New products, new systems
-a feeling of Ownership, that the company was partially yours not just the family owners
-people were treated with:
Respect for what they brought to us
Faith that you treated others fairly
Trust until you lost it
These traits come from the Leadership and somehow are more prevalent in smaller or startup firms.
Brad James, The Business Zoo
In the military, there is an idea of a “Strategic Corporal.” It embodies that the lowest non-commissioned officer should be able to know what each mission is about. They should also know how it fits into overall operations. This will allow initiative at the level of the fire team. Your post about allowing the line employee to act reminds me a lot of it. There should be celebration when a person acts on their own, but credit should be double when they succeed. Thanks for your post.
#3. Adopt an ‘intend to’ model.* Train people to explain what they intend to do, rather than waiting to be told to do it. “Tell me what you intend to do.” Great concept and good practice – and shared in more detail in the book “Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders” by L. David Marquet. (Recommend a few years ago by Dan. Thanks!)
HI Dan, I’m going to use this article for a discussion with my team. Some move forward boldly. Some wait for direction. Properly empowered people make a huge difference!
Thank you for the article, as a young professional this is something that I am learning in the workplace so reading this article was very helpful for me identifying ways to take action without passing it by the boss first. I agree with #6 that says more experienced the employee the less permission that person needs as experienced employees have a stronger sense or boundaries and what authority is needed compared asking for permission. I’m pretty interest in generational studies and something I come across often in my readings is asking too much person is something seen as a negative attributed of millennials. It says millennials in the workplace ask for permission or don’t act on our own enough this often frustrates their boss which often is from generation X or maybe a baby boomer. It is something that I’m trying to improve on but as you said having an encouraging leader that promotes taking action with out permission will help build employee ownership and accountability the organizations activities/projects.